County counselor asked to review accrued leave policy

Pratt County's Employee Policy Manual was altered several years ago and those changes may come back to haunt county budgets for many years. Initially, commissioners allowed the director and assistant director of Pratt County Emergency Services to accrue sick leave and vacation time because of the number of extended hours they had to work.

The alterations made to the policy manual allowed all employees to accrue sick leave and vacation hours indefinitely, according to Pratt County Emergency Medical Services Director Mark McManaman.

Accrued sick leave and vacation time will have to be included in future county budgets to pay employees retiring from the system unless some changes are made, according to McManaman. Long-term employees will be paid at their highest rate instead of at the rate they earned their sick leave and vacation time. Some individual employees have over 300 hours of accrued leave and vacation time and it will get very expensive if and when those employees retire unless adjustments are made.

"I've never heard of any employee not taking their vacation," said Pratt County Commission Chairman Joe Reynolds.

"If you retire next year, you would have to get paid at the same rate as you're making now," commented Pratt County Commissioner Glenna Borho.

Pratt County Counselor Robert Schmisseur said, "We need to be careful over a period of time. We can certainly say that over a period of time you have to use your vacation."

"Used, or paid at the end of the year," suggested Borho.

Commissioners instructed Schmisseur to work out an equitable policy to take care of the problem to prevent future misuse and correct the accrued hours presently on the books.

In other matters, commissioners:

• approved expending approximately $29,000 to repair the track loader at the landfill and $620 a day to rent an excavator for the landfill while the track loader is being repaired.

• approved a zoning request for an RV Campground in an agricultural area for Alan and Kathy Albers.

• were informed by Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn, he would be attending a meeting in Topeka relating to the gun legislation recently signed into law by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

• met with Pratt County Weed Director Robert Torres. Torres told commissioners his department was caught up on their work and awaiting the bindweed to grow tall enough to be sprayed.

• met with Pratt County Assessor D.J. McMurry for 10-minutes to discuss non-elected personnel. After exiting the session, commissioners approved a new four-year contract with McMurry.

• met with Susan Page and Mike Patton to discuss building progress at Pratt Regional Medical Center. Page and Patton both said the building was currently on schedule and the city of Pratt was being extremely cooperative. Patton added that he had met with firemen to show them what was going on and how they could access the building during the demolition and remodeling phases of construction and would meet with them as changes occur.

• were informed the senior citizens of the county would be getting a new wheelchair bus through a Kansas Department of Transportation grant approval.

• approved a $10,000 contract with Foster & Associates to write zoning regulations for all the small cities in the county with the exception of Sawyer.

• were informed by Schmisseur that Parkwood Village has been granted their exemption from ad valorem taxes. The county should be getting the in lieu of funds in the near future.